Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Mysore Mallige

The season of  festivals has already started and Dassara or Navaratri, the Nada Habba of Karnataka, is just a few days away.
Flowers form an integral part of the festivals and Dasara is no exception.
Bangalore and Mysore is home to a variety of flowers but one of the most common flower-on Gods, in houses, for decoration and also widely used by women is the jasmine, called Mallige in Kannada.
The Mallige has had a unique place in the history of the State. The Mysore Mallige (1942) is world famous and it is the subject of a beautiful collection of poems by the late K.S. Narasimha Swamy.
This work became so famous that he came to be known as Mallige Kavi (poet). It is considered to be one of the outstanding works of Kannada literature. And since its inception, it has seen 27 reprints.
The Mysore Mallige has inspired the movie by the same name made by T.S. Nagabharana and also a musical play by Kalagangothri.
The Mysore Mallige got the GI tag a few years ago. But what few know is that apart from Mysore, the Mallige has two other unique geographical cousins: the Udupi Mallige and Hadagali Mallige. All the three Mallige varieties have been patented and Karnataka is the only State to have a GI tag for all three varieties of jasmine.
The GI tag will enable the Horticulture Department which applied for and received the patent, to provide exclusive rights to the local community to cultivate these three crops and continue to grow them for 10 years and more.
Though all the three flowers are household names in Karnataka and known around the world, the Mysore variety is better known than the other two. The GI status helps protect its commercial interest too and lead to better research and development on them.
The Mysore Mallige, Udupi Mallige and Hadagali Mallige apart from Mysore yele or betel leaf and Nanjangud bale (a variety of banana were registered simultaneously under Intellectual Property Right (IPR).
The jasmine species apart from other flowers and fruits are grown in 411 horticulture farms of the State.
Coming back to jasmine, the nomenclature Mysore Mallige is so as it is mainly grown around Mysore and partly in Srirangapatna taluk in Mandya district. This jasmine leaves a lingering fragrance.
The Mallige grown in and Hadagali and Udupi are similarly known as Hadagali and Udupi Mallige.
Hadagali Mallige (Jasminum auriculatumVahl), locally known as “Vasane Mallige", is grown mainly in Hoovina Hadagali, Hospet and surrounding areas in Bellary district.
The Udupi Mallige (Jasminum sambac-L Aiton) is of recent origin and the first cultivation of this variety started in Shankarapura in Udupi district about 100 years ago. Therefore, it is also called as Shankarapura. This variety has demand in Mumbai, Goa, Nasik and other places. This has a longer shelf life and its bud remains for three to four days.
Whatever its variety, jasmine is considered by Indians to be the queen of flowers.It is called up different names in different states such as Mogra,  Chameli, Malli poo, Jaati, Mallige, Juhi, Mogra or Moonlight in the grove.
In Mysore, farmers grow jasmine in two crops. The Mysore Mallige has good demand in Kerala and Tamil Nadu apart from south Karnataka. The reasons why jasmine gives fragrance is due to the presence of  aromatic compounds Indol, Jasmone, Benzyl Acetate, Benzyl Benzoate, Methyl Anthranilate, Linalool and  Geraniol.
It is for this reason that jasmine is today widely used in perfumery, cosmetics, incense, aroma therapy and even Ayurveda. It is also used externally to soothe dry and sensitive skin.
The Hadagalli variety is unique as it grows on sandy red soil prevailing in this region. The dry weather and good water supply are needed to this variety which is mainly propagated through cuttings. It is planted directly in  July and August or at the onset of monsoon. The flowering season spreads up to six months.
The Udupi Mallige is rated to be more economically viable among all the three varieties. The laterite soil condition of the coast, high humidity and heavy rainfall (more than 2,500–3,000 mm or 98–120 inches per annum) makes it suitable for growing this crop. Propagation is mainly by cuttings. Here, the planting is done during August and September.
The Udupi variety is mainly used for garlands, especially at weddings and other auspicious occasions and for making garlands for worship of temples deities.
Jasmine is today being used for its medicinal value. Its medical  uses are as anti depressant, anti septic, anti Spasmodic, Aphrodisiac, sedative and uterine. Recent researches have found jasmine oil to jell very well with every floral scent and, hence, it is extensively used as an important perfumery item throughout the world.
Indole, which is found in the buds, is highly volatile. It is extracted from fully opened, freshly collected flowers during early morning.
Incidentally, this is one of the key scents in some of the most celebrated perfumes in the world viz., the Chanel No. 5, created by the legendary Coco Chanel and the famous “Joy” perfume, created by the French designer Jean Patou. A single ounce, still known as the costliest perfume in the world, contains 10,600 jasmine flowers.
Though India’s share in the international market for these flowers is still negligible, Karnataka has always led the nation. Today, it accounts for 75 per cent of India's total flower production. The State has the highest area under modern cut flowers and 40 flower growing and exporting units. The country's first and only flower auction centre is located in Bangalore, Karnataka.
The GI to these three varieties was given in 2008.
So when you want to grow jasmine in your house, check out the variety.  

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